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The Use of Agile Project Management is Increasing

The Use of Agile Project Management is Increasing

An agile project management meeting in a room with a large table and a group of employees on one side of the desk and one woman on the other side of the table giving a presentation -- behind her is a wall and a cluster of post it notes stuck to the wall.

Last Updated March 8, 2024

The pace of change in the business world is getting faster and more intense, which leads to a demand that projects be completed quicker and on a tighter budget. To that end, the number of lengthy projects is dwindling, and organizations are looking to implement Agile project management to help meet these new industry demands.

Rapid technology changes have driven many organizations to assess traditional methods of project management to stay competitive, spurring the adoption of Agile project management. According to the Project Management Institute’s (PMI) 2017 Pulse of the Profession® report, 71% of organizations reported using Agile methods for their projects sometimes, often or always.

Combining Agile and project management allows companies to reduce waste and increase transparency, while addressing customers’ ever-changing requirements. According to the Pulse of the Profession report, 1-in-5 projects were completed using some kind of Agile approach mixed with project management in the last year.

What is Agile Project Management?

The core theme of Agile project management revolves around embracing change, even in the latter stages of the development process. Agile methodology focuses on delivering the features that have the greatest business value first, and then communicating real-time information, enabling the strict management of the cost, time and scope of the project.

Traditional project management typically puts all the weight of the project on the project manager. They can be responsible for balancing the cost, project scope, quality, personnel, risk, reporting and adapting as requirements change. Agile project management is a collaborative approach where project responsibilities are divided among three different roles:

  • Product Owner – This person is responsible for setting project goals, managing the scope of the project, adapting when project requirements change and setting priorities for product features
  • Scrum Master – They are responsible for guiding the team, prioritizing project tasks and removing impediments
  • Team Member – Team members are in charge of handling most of the task assignments, daily detail management, quality control and reporting on the overall progress of the team

Agile project management reduces complexity by breaking down the time consuming process of determining project requirements, building the product and then testing it, only for the result to not meet client expectations or to include product flaws. Instead, small, usable segments of a product are specified, developed and tested in two-to-four-week cycles called “sprints”.

Benefits of Agile Methodology

With Agile project management, primary constraints, such as time and cost, can be continuously evaluated. Rapid feedback, continuous adaptation and Q&A best practices are built into teams’ schedules, which ensures quality output and a streamlined process. The following represents some of the other benefits of Agile project management:

  • Increased focus on the specific needs of customers
  • Reduced waste through minimizing resources
  • Increased flexibility enabling teams to easily adapt to change
  • Better control of projects
  • Faster project turnaround times
  • Faster detection of product issues or defects
  • Increased frequency of collaboration and feedback
  • Improved development process
  • Increased success because efforts are more focused
  • Rapid deployment of solutions

Role of a Project Manager on an Agile Project

The role of an Agile project manager is typically different than a traditional project manager. Essentially, the traditional project manager becomes the Scrum Master in an Agile approach. Below are some ways the Scrum Master or Agile project manager role differs from the typical project manager.

  • Authority – The traditional project manager role is more of a hierarchal position dealing with command and control, whereas the role of Scrum Master is more of a facilitator
  • Managing stakeholder expectations – With Agile project management, this responsibility falls under the product owner. The product owner provides the team with leadership and direction, so they can develop the right product and deliver business value based on priority and ROI
  • Work assignments – A traditional project manager assigns and supervises the team’s work, but in an Agile setting, it is the responsibility of the team members. The Agile team should be a self-organized group of skilled professionals who remain accountable for the amount of work they commit to in a sprint
  • Requirements – It is the product owner’s responsibility to ensure requirements are defined and it is their duty to provide adequate direction for the product and services being delivered
  • Removing obstacles – This responsibility transfers over from the project manager role to the Scrum Master role in an Agile setting. This involves removing obstacles and providing support to the team
  • Leadership and support – It is the Scrum Master who leads and supports the product owner and Agile team by assisting them, facilitating creativity and fostering empowerment

The Scrum Master must facilitate the team’s adoption of Scrum with the understanding they have no authority over the team.

As traditional project managers consider making the transition to this role, they will need to adapt and transition their skills, as well as make the move toward an Agile culture.

Pulse of the Profession is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.